Three young Russian women have been sentenced to serve two years in prison for their musical stunt protesting the rule of President Vladimir V. Putin.
The women, members of a punk band called Pussy Riot, were convicted of hooliganism for entering the Cathedral Church of Christ in Moscow in February. They danced around the altar and performed what they called a punk prayer imploring the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Putin, who had been elected to a new term just two weeks earlier. Their actions were also seen as a protest against the Russian Orthodox Church for its support of President Putin.
The judge, Marina Syrova, said the women were a danger to society and guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, she also said the protesters had mixed psychological disorders that include individualism and stubborn expression of opinion, that apparently are frowned on in todays Russia.
During the five months they have already spent in jail, they have attracted international support from celebrities and human rights advocates. The verdict was greeted by courtroom cries of shame and disgrace. The sentences are one more example of President Putins attempts in recent months to crack down on his political opponents and suppress dissent.